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The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday issued its unanimous ruling that the Industrial Commission of Ohio was within its right to modify the miscalculation of benefits owed to an injured worker 18 years after the original award, allowing the commission to collect overpayments from the future benefits.
Billy Witt suffered multiple serious injuries in a vehicle accident in 1997 while employed by Christian Morris Construction Inc., according to documents in State Ex Rel. Witt v. Industrial Commission of Ohio. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation initially calculated his benefits; by 2014, he had been paid $196,164. That year, Mr. Witt applied for permanent total disability, which was granted, records state.
In 2015, the bureau notified Mr. Witt, informing him of the original miscalculation from 1997, and informed him of his new, lesser benefit — a total adjustment that is $95.85 less in combined full weekly wage and average weekly wage, according to court documents.
Mr. Witt appealed to a district hearing officer with a writ of mandamus, stating the commission was unreasonable in its 18-year delay in re-calculating his benefits. The hearing officer ruled in favor of the commission, finding that it was within its rights to collect overpayments since 1997 in future payments. As chronicled in court documents, Mr. Witt then appealed to the Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of the commission. The state’s highest court affirmed that decision in Tuesday’s ruling.
Business owners, fraudulent claimants and a health care provider who attempted to steal from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation are among eight convictions secured by the agency in August, the bureau announced on Friday.